Voice Acting: Should You Create Original Characters or Do Impressions?

Voice Acting: Should You Create Original Characters or Do Impressions?

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NOTE: This was originally recorded at Joshua Seth's monthly Voice Over Master Class

When you voice animation, let the director pull you back. Don't edit yourself, don't direct yourself.

Your job as an actor is to breathe life into the script, and to have fun with it and to play. Their job is to make that play appropriate for the sandbox in which they're building that world. So don't self-edit, don't self-direct, just go as far as you can because it's always easier for the director to pull you back than it is for them to pull something out of you that you're not showing them. 

I'm not a big believer in doing impressions.

Very few people can do impressions well enough to get booked at them, especially when the person that originated the character or the person that you're approximating is available for the gig. Right? So it might be one thing if you're going to do an impression of Daffy Duck or something, or impression of somebody from the past, no longer around, like I like to do Edward G. Robinson. "Yeah, see. Edward G."

But the point is not to do an exact impression but to use it as a way into the character and then take it a new direction, a way that is unique to you.

So I wouldn't necessarily do, "Yeah, Edward G. Robinson" in order to sound like Edward G. I would do it to be something like an old timey bank robber, for instance, then I'd find something about that situation, that character, that particular genre that I'm working within to make it unique to me. Because the director honestly could just say, "Hey, that last guy did Edward G. Robinson. Can you do your Edward G. Robinson too?" Then you're just competing to do the same thing. It's pointless.

However, like you just did the voice of Rocket (from Guardians of The Galaxy) and you said it wasn't a perfect Rocket. Well it doesn't need to be a perfect Rocket. It needs to be a hook for you to hang the character on. And you did that very well.

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Joshua Seth is the voice of over 100 other animated TV shows, movies, video games, and anime (Digimon, Akira, Spongebob). He teaches voice acting and audition technique in his monthly voice over classes on Zoom. And has a 30 day online voice training course designed to unlock your money voice here.

("Your Money Voice" is a term used in the voice over industry which refers to the voice you use when you book a gig. It's your authentic voice. The voice that connects with people. The voice that closes the deal.)

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